Killjoy and the Politics of Laughter. Russian Television Humour about Alyaksandr Lukashenka and its Reception in Belarusian Online Media

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Drawing upon the perspective of the cultural studies of emotions, this article examines the reception of political satire and the re-contextualization of humour. More precisely, it investigates the multiplicity of tensions that come into play in the production, erasure, rediscovery, and reception in Belarusian
Internet media of politically oriented Russian television humour mocking the Belarusian president Alyaksandr Lukashenka. The very phenomenon of comical representation aims at triggering a particular type of viewer response: laughter.
But what if there is no laughter? To study this phenomenon, the concept of unlaughter, coined by Michael Billig, is drawn upon. Resonating with Sara Ahmed’s term killjoy, it helps to uncover inequalities reproduced in the circulation of humour. Who laughs and who is laughed at? The article looks at the construction of subjects and objects of laughter, as well as the emotions helping to shape the two. The extent to which the particular case discussed in this article might be illustrative of a broader function of political humour and unlaughter in creating and challenging power differentials is considered.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Cultural Studies


  • politics of humour, killjoy, politics of emotion, Belarus
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)34-55
JournalLIR journal
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Publication categoryResearch

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